Collagen and the Conscious Diet: A Collision Between Two Fast Growing Trends

Not-for-profit AminoFacts calls on collagen producers to be more transparent about the animal sources used in their manufacturing process
CHICAGO - Jan. 20, 2021 - PRLog -- AminoFacts, an independent, non-profit organization that brings transparency to sourcing and production processes around food grade amino acids, has reviewed leading collagen and collagen-boosting supplements through the lens of ethical consumers who observe conscious dietary practices.

AminoFacts has turned its eyes toward collagen supplements, as they are a popular and growing category – in 2020, in the United States alone, consumers were expected to spend $293 million on collagen supplements, up from just $50 million in 2014, an almost a six-fold increase.

At the same time, Americans are also becoming more plant-based, socially- and environmentally-conscious consumers. The vegan food market, for example, was valued at $14.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to climb more than twofold, to $31.4 billion, by 2026.

According to AminoFacts spokesperson and Board Member Mitch Kanter, Ph.D., "Many consumers may not be aware that collagen supplements are made with materials derived from animal parts; and many have fillers and other additives, which begs the question: how are these two trends squared"

How collagen is made

Collagen is manufactured from the inedible parts of slaughtered animals – including fish silage, hooves, hair, skin, feathers and teeth from cows, pigs, chickens and the like. Many products, if not all, are hydrolyzed – they go through a chemical process that breaks down the collagen protein into peptides, which are short chains of amino acids that are more readily absorbed into the body. The chemicals can be harsh agents such as hydrochloric acid.

While these animal sources and chemicals may sound a bit unappetizing to most people, it's even more so to those who support animal welfare and/or practice plant-based lifestyles.

Labels are not always helpful

Labels on some popular collagen supplements will often create messaging around features that are true for every product in the category, using terms like gluten-free, dairy-free. In fact, the animal-derived amino acids found in collagen do not contain any of these types of ingredients. Some brands also claim to be keto- and paleo-friendly, and yet, except for the rare product that uses maltodextrin to prevent clumping, all collagen is carb-free. Additionally, "preservative-free" is just a marketing ploy – collagen is processed and packaged in a way that does not require preservatives.

Importantly, very few collagen products disclose how they treat the animals from whom the products are sourced. Practices can range from the cruel, to common, to anywhere along the Whole Foods "step scale," where "Step 1" is "no cages, no crates, no crowding," and "Step 5+" "animal centered, entire life on same farm."

"The supplement market is a bit behind the food industry in terms of providing consumers with specific and consistent information about what they're putting into their bodies," said David Madsen, Ph.D. "In the case of collagen or any other supplement, it is important for consumers to know what questions to ask, and how to decipher labels to find answers."

There are plant-based alternatives

There are many products on the market that are plant sourced. As plants do not contain collagen, these products can be described "collagen enhancers" that blend a combination of some of the amino acids found in animal collagen along with other ingredients that can be used to help the body generate collagen.

Most plant-based products use a relatively natural method, fermentation, to create the amino acids. This plant-based process is usually less harsh than animal hydrolysis, as it uses natural microorganisms in a broth that creates the amino acids from plant materials.

Laurie Cairns
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Tags:Collagen, Vegan, Animal Welfare
Industry:Health, Beauty, Non-profit
Location:Chicago - Illinois - United States
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